You probably know you need to exercise. What you probably don’t know is how to squeeze the time it takes to exercise into your schedule. To help you fit in a little fitness every Move It Monday, we’ve gathered a few easy exercises you can do at work (or anywhere for that matter) that can be performed in very little time. Research shows that small bouts of exercise benefit your health, so try a new mini exercise when you’ve got a spare minute.
For the final installment of our 4-week “mini exercise” series, we will be looking at an activity not normally viewed as an exercise in the traditional sense. It is, however, an excellent way to squeeze exercise into a busy schedule.
Consider the stairs a built-in piece of gym equipment. Any time you can take the stairs over the elevator, you’re doing your health a favor. And if you can squeeze in a few stair walking repetitions during your day, even better. Climbing stairs is a great form of cardio exercise: It burns calories, produces endorphins and can improve your heart health. Here’s how to do it:
OK, so you probably know how to walk up the stairs. Start your routine slow by walking up a few flights, and be sure to take breaks when you need them. As you get more comfortable, add some speed to your routine, jogging up the stairs (make sure doing so is safe, and never run DOWN the stairs). As you build your strength, you can add more stairs and more speed.
Squats strengthen your entire body while increasing your flexibility and even improving your posture. They’re basically a superfood of exercises. Try adding chair squats into your workday, and soon enough you’ll feel yourself getting stronger. Here’s how to do it:
Stand in front of your chair, back facing the chair and legs shoulder-width apart. Shift so that your heels are bearing most of your weight (you can try wiggling your toes to make sure you’re in the right position). While keeping your back straight, with your knees above your feet, squat down so that you are just hovering above the chair, not touching or sitting in it. You can keep your hands together with your arms bent at the elbows. Straighten your legs to return to the starting position. Repeat the movement 10 – 15 times.
This movement helps improve your balance while strengthening your hips, thighs, and glutes. It’s something you can perform at a standing meeting, or just for a few moments while you’re up on your feet. Here’s how to do it:
With your feet slightly apart, stand behind a sturdy chair, which you can hold onto for balance. Slowly lift one leg out to the side, keeping your back straight and your toes facing forward. Make sure not to lock your standing leg – add a slight bend to it if it is locked. Hold your lifted leg in the lifted position for at least one second. Then slowly lower it back to the ground. Repeat this movement for 10 to 15 times. Then repeat these steps with the other leg.
Here’s a stretch that’s useful for anyone who sits for hours at a time. It’s a great move for warmups, for cooldowns and for a little relief at any point during the day. Best of all, you can perform this stretch while seated at your desk. Here’s how to do it:
While seated, place your right ankle on top of your left knee. Your left foot should be placed on the floor. Gently push your right thigh toward the ground, leaning forward slightly. Hold this stretch for about 20 seconds, remembering to breathe throughout. Then switch sides.